Today it was announced that Swiss headquartered certification body IMO is the first to be accredited to certify fish farms against the ASC Tilapia Standard. This standard for responsible aquaculture has been developed through an inclusive and transparent multi-stakeholder process and was finalised late 2010. Since then the ASC has developed a robust set of accreditation requirements for certification bodies.
A standard specific, mandatory training (with exams) is just one of the many requirements. Auditors will need to have relevant experience, education, skill sets etc. to be able to perform credible audits. To make sure certification processes are done credibly these processes are fully transparent and encourage affected stakeholders to provide input to it. Every audit process starts with a public announcement at a minimum of 30 days prior to the audit. This allows relevant stakeholders to contact the auditor, if they feel they need to be heard. Before and during the audit these and other stakeholders will be consulted to get a full understanding of the farm’s level of compliance against the ASC standard. Once the audit has been finalised the auditor will put together a draft audit report which – again – will be publicly available for additional feedback. Once this feedback has been processed the certifier will create the final audit report and will take the certification decision based on the full scope of his findings. The final report will be published at the ASC website, where everyone has access to it.
The ASC has chosen to work with independent, third party accreditation and certification. The accreditation of certification bodies is done by Accreditation Services International (in Bonn), which also does accreditation globally for MSC, and FSC. The accreditation process consists of different steps. A desk review, a visit to the companies’ head office, a witnessed farm audit are some essential elements of this thorough process. Once accredited each company will be monitored by ASI, which has the opportunity to take sanctions if need be.
The mission of the ASC is: to transform aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility using efficient market mechanisms that create value across the chain.